I wake up and look around at the other 8 or so half naked people passed out in the hostel room. I quietly get up and wash away the shame from the previous nights pub crawl, collect my thoughts and get ready for the day ahead. In the bunk bed across from me is a pretty Aussie girl I met the night before. We both get up and prepare to attack the day ahead.
The countless cheap shots in Leidseplein are taking their toll but It’s a sunny Autumn day and we’re in Amsterdam. There's no time to stay in my bunk bed feeling sorry for myself. It's not every day you're in Amsterdam and there’s an energy in the air, the type of energy that can only be experienced exploring an exotic foreign city with new found friends.
We make some rough plans and wind our way through the narrow hallway and devilishly steep staircase and out the door off on our adventure. As soon as the fresh air hits us, we realize we are both wearing matching maroon jerseys and look like an old married couple. We laugh at each other and head down the street and past the town houses and Vondel park in the direction of what we hope is the city. After ten minutes and a few near misses with cyclists we make it to Leidseplein. There’s tourists everywhere looking confused staring at their maps. Although the Leidse Square is bustling with people - the hectic nightlife buzz from the previous night has faded. The neon lights are looking a little less glamorous and the loud music and rowdy tourists have subsided. Despite the change in atmosphere, a buzz still lingers, a different buzz, it seems day and night reveal two polarizing sides to this city.
We stumble through the crowded streets, avoiding eye contact with the guys trying to lure us into their restaurants and avoiding a few more near misses with the locals on two wheels. We see a sign that signals we’ve found what we’ve been looking for. We exchange glances and decide to check it out.
We sheepishly walk in feeling as though I should be looking over my shoulder. Despite my liberal and open approach to personal choice and drugs, I can’t help but feel slightly like a criminal. It’s fairly quiet and modest inside. It reminds me of a small town bar but with a key difference. There’s a few groups of guys sipping away on drinks and there’s that sweet pungent smell in the air. These guys aren’t sipping beers, they’re sipping on coffees and smoothies. They aren’t slurring drunken words at each other or dancing on the bar. Some are playing chess, others are engaged in intense conversations and some stare blankly into space with glazed eyes.
We look at the menu with puzzled looks in amazement at the variety of types of weed and edibles on offer. Kandy-Kush? Purple Haze? Dr. Grinspoon? It feels like we have transcended into some kind of Snoop Dogg video. All I know is I'm impressed and get my phone out to send a snapchat to the boys back home. We order a pre-rolled joint from the “weaker end of the menu” at the suggestion of the guy behind the counter. We take a seat near the guys playing chess and can’t help but giggle at the strangeness of the situation.
We borrow a lighter and spark up. We start chatting away enjoying our joint which appears to be rolled with mechanical precision. It’s not long before our amazement of the situation and casual conversation turns to fits of laughter. Fits of laughter that seem to melt away all perceptions of time and awareness of the people around us. I’ve smoked more weed I than I would like to admit but this is something else. This isn't the shit your parents used to smoke. Interesting conversation flows and the laughter seem endless.
A few hours cruise by. With sore cheeks and chronic munchies, Brandi and I thank the guy behind the counter, feeling less like criminals and more like locals and head out onto the street looking for something sweet to kill the hunger.
After passing the identical looking canal houses and bridges for the fifth time we realize we have no fucking idea where we are or where we are going. The laughter comes back. This scenario continues on for the next hour or so until a friendly and somewhat amused local points us in the right direction which allows our Amsterdam adventure to continue…
...but that story's for another day.
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